Devotional on Genesis

2002 – Boston, MA

Genesis 11: Let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven.
God’s plan, in this case, is to break up relationships
The Flood purges the earth of a humanity that’s fully committed to evil. Now, through Noah, human beings are given a second chance. He and his family come out of the ark and life springs forth. Children are born, have children of their own, and, within a few hundred years the one family becomes many. The Flood washed away the dominant evil, but it didn’t wash away the stain of sin on their hearts. Hundreds of years pass and Noah’s descendants decide to build a city with a great tower that will reach to Heaven. The idea of having a humble walk with God doesn’t occur to them. Instead, they will, of their own wisdom and strength, climb up to him. Hundreds of years earlier, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit and thus, be like God. Now we see humanity trying a different approach to achieve the same goal. It’s plain that, unless something happens, this is going to be a continuing problem. People need to be dispersed — spread out. Otherwise, they’ll continue to be a bad influence on each other and maybe, as they cooperate in disobedience to God…well, who knows what might happen. The Lord’s solution is both simple and complex. In a moment, he gives different languages to the different people groups. Suddenly, a fellow asks for another brick to use in construction, and his partner can’t understand what he said. Chaos ensues. As people realize they can only understand what their near kin are saying, they group together and move off to get away from the “babble” of their proposed city. Never again will the entire of humanity cooperate in any venture. This doesn’t solve the problem of people having a broken relationship with God, but it does help on the other side of things: it breaks their relationship with one another.
Take away: Sometimes God separates people for their own good.

Devotional on Matthew

The Christian way

Matthew 18: If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out between the two of you.

We Christians claim to be followers of Jesus but we tend to overlook some of the inconvenient things he teaches. Jesus says that if there’s something going on between me and you that my first order of business is to go to you and explain to you how I’ve been hurt. If that doesn’t work out there are further steps I’m to take in seeking reconciliation with you. The thing is we Christians seldom follow these clear instructions. We go around with a chip on our shoulder, talk about people (otherwise known as gossip), start lining up our allies and identifying our enemies and, in general, toss aside this teaching of our Lord and Master. When that’s done, a rift in the church is formed that draws people into the fight and drives people out of the church. Energies that should be spent in winning the lost are wasted in attempts to win the fight. Still, for those of us who can’t imagine dealing with a broken relationship like Jesus says, I’m going to offer an alternative approach. Just forget it. Stop being hurt, stop “remembering,” stop talking, and forgive from the depths of your heart. Apologize to Jesus for being so shallow as to be hurt about whatever it is and ask him to forgive you as you’re forgiving them. This alternative is almost implied by the rest of this passage in which Jesus talks about the unforgiving servant. So, when I’m hurt and upset about something, as a follower of Jesus, I have a couple of options. I can go to you and begin the reconciliation process Jesus described or I can stop being so sensitive and let it go, forgiving as I’ve been forgiven. Responding to hurts in these ways is how Christians do things.

Take Away: A Christian with a chip on his or her shoulder isn’t behaving like a Christian at all.